Wednesday, June 24, 2009

UT's Kraken world's most powerful academic computer

..and sixth overall, while ORNL's Jaguar retains its Number Two Spot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Knoxville in hunt for World Cup matches

Yes, the World Cup is coming to East Tennessee!

Well, maybe!

Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard at Neyland Stadium?

I giggled at this comment on it from 'VolGraduate":

"Hope this comes to Knoxville. It would be a great thing for all the East TN hillbillies to experience some culture"

Secret of a Snake's Slither

I have always been fascinated by snakes, such as this black spitting cobra.
But how do they move?
Ever since I sat as an undergrad in Leeds University library reading
Nicolas Rashevsky's "Mathematical Biophysics" treatise, which proposed, amongst many other things, a model for snake locomotion, I have wondered about this.

And now:

Proc Natl Acad Sci Jun 9 e-pub ahead of publication:

"In this experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the slithering of snakes on flat surfaces. Previous studies of slithering have rested on the assumption that snakes slither by pushing laterally against rocks and branches. In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin. Our predictions of body speed show good agreement with observations, demonstrating that snake propulsion on flat ground, and possibly in general, relies critically on the frictional anisotropy of their scales. We have also highlighted the importance of weight distribution in lateral undulation, previously difficult to visualize and hence assumed uniform. The ability to redistribute weight, clearly of importance when appendages are airborne in limbed locomotion, has a much broader generality, as shown by its role in improving limbless locomotion."

Video here.

..and this is the species of snake, the Common Krait, that kind colleagues in the Ecology Department of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore took me to see on a field trip near the Western Ghats in September 2008:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Models’ Projections for Flu Miss Mark by Wide Margin

"In the waning days of April, as federal officials were declaring a public health emergency and the world seemed gripped by swine flu panic, two rival supercomputer teams made projections about the epidemic that were surprisingly similar — and surprisingly reassuring. By the end of May, they said, there would be only 2,000 to 2,500 cases in the United States.
May’s over. They were a bit off.
On May 15, the Centers for disease Control and prevention estimated that there were “upwards of 100,000” cases in the country, even though only 7,415 had been confirmed at that point."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Women 'surpass men' at UK universities

..and worldwide.

But that doesn't necessarily mean girls are improving:

"A science test taken by 11 and 12-year-olds in the mid-1970s had been successfully passed by 54% of boys and 27% of girls.When the same test was taken in 2003, the scores for both boys and girls had fallen to 17% - a much more rapid decline for boys."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catalysis in Heidelberg...

Many congratulations to my old Heidelberg Catalysis SFB 623 'Molecular Catalysts: Structure and Functional Design" who were recently renewed for 4 more years with a 7 Million Euro grant.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Y-12 and ORNL...

.., the New York Times doesn't know the difference, leading to the BBC erroneously reporting, in "US in Nuclear Security Blunder", one of its most highly-read releases of the day:

'.....the most serious disclosure was on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, known as the Fort Knox of highly enriched uranium, the leading fuel for nuclear weapons."

Error propagation: as pernicious in journalism as it is in science.